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May. 12 2010 - 3:36 pm | 510 views | 1 recommendation | 9 comments

Do you wear your sexuality on your sleeve?

Shirt sleeves and a cuffling

Image by 2Tales via Flickr

According to Iowa Representative Steve King, queers wear their sexuality on their sleeves while heteros keep it under wraps.  King appeared on a radio show with Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council (who most recently threw fellow homophobe activist George Rekers over the cliff when Rekers’ homoerotic sexual practices were outed by a male prostitute).  During a discussion about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), King stated there is no need for legislation to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or  gender expression because queers create the discrimination themselves by being so freakin’ flamboyant.

if you don’t advertise it, how would anyone know to discriminate against you?’ And that’s at the basis of this. So if people wear their sexuality on their sleeve and then they want to bring litigation against someone that they would point their finger at and say, ‘You discriminate.’ …This is the homosexual lobby taking it out on the rest of society and they are demanding affirmation for their lifestyle, that’s at the bottom of this.”

See, now I’m confused.  Because far-right homophobes tell me that everyone should just keep their sexuality (and, I suppose gender expression?) PRIVATE, but then they themselves are so freakin’ flamboyant in their straightness.  What’s that on your hand?  A wedding ring? What’s that with your gender presentation- it’s completely as it ought to be, with not a single sartorial signifier out of place?  But still, you’re not “announcing” your straightness to the world, you’re just embodying it; unlike pesky queers who have to shove their gender presentation and sexual identity in everyone’s face.

And if I don’t wear my sexuality on my sleeve, how can I ever get any where in this world?   Look at poor Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, whom I myself suggested was anything but straight in my previous post.  Now she’s gotta go and prove herself to be 100% hetero or the right wing nuts are going to pray her nomination away.

The entire thing reminds me of a variety of political asylum cases I have been involved in as an “expert witness.”  These asylum seekers are in some way queer- trans, gay, lesbian- and live in Russia, a country where they have no legal protection from being fired from their jobs or kicked out of school, but also where there is rampant and perhaps even state-sponsored violence against them.  The lawyers representing the United States will usually ask me the following:

If no one knew they were gay, then they wouldn’t get beat up, would they?

This argument that a better closet would protect us all from discrimination and violence is not exactly the brightest bulb of hope we have for a better future.  Imagine applying the closet elsewhere to issues of discrimination.

If only Latinos could pass as Anglos in Arizona, then they’d never get arrested for looking illegal.

If only women could pass as men at work, then there would be no unequal pay for equal work.

Forcing people to pass as if they were part of dominant culture is not really a great plan for ending employer discrimination.  We need a piece of legislation, like ENDA, that would protect people whose sexual or gender expression is other than normative.  Sadly, ENDA’s not likely to pass again, both because of right wing idiots like King who think queers should pass as straights and because of cowardly Dems who fear the legislation’s protection of “gender expression” (i.e. transgendered individuals) will make them vulnerable in the next elections.

But I suppose if ENDA does pass, it will just make those heteros more flamboyant about wearing their sexuality on their sleeves and knowing that no one can fire them because of it.


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  1. collapse expand

    Very well said. It’s a ridiculous argument and once again blames the victims of discrimination. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go bind my breasts with an ace bandage.

  2. collapse expand

    I don’t get the flamboyant vs non-flamboyant thing vis a vis gays, but I completely get that as individuals we should be treated on our merits. Rep. King is a moron.

  3. collapse expand

    Of course, this describes DADT precisely.

    Do these right wing bigots listen to themselves? Really. One does not have to think about it for more than a second before you realize that they idea that gays “wear sexuality on your sleeve” and heteros don’t (or are they saying that it’s ok for heteros to be “out” because their orientation is “better?”) is absolutely ridiculous.

  4. collapse expand

    Not all homosexuals are flamboyant queens. See: the Vatican.

    Even if all of them were, so what? In a free country, one is free to choose a lifestyle — free in the sense of entitled to protection from discrimination.

    Lastly, if we may discriminate against lifestyles, we should start by marginalizing King and his followers — people who have chosen to live the mental life of farm animals. It goes against human nature in all kinds of ways.

    You lose on all counts, King. You mouthbreather.

  5. collapse expand

    I have, shall we say, a kind of flamboyant personality–I wear red sneakers, odd hats, and ponchos. My avatar for some sites is me in a grotesque pink hat I bought for my wife while drunk (me, not her) and wear for penance once in a while.

    It’s prolly all just attention-getting. I’ve been thought gay by some over the years. I guess it means that not only do straights have to keep their sexuality hidden, but also their personalities, especially if ebullient.

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